U.S. Funded Global Health Orgs Once Again Allowed To Acknowledge Existence Of Abortion
President Biden (man, that still feels really good to write) has officially started to undo some of the horrific damage caused by the Trump regime. One area that's going to need a lot of work is reproductive healthcare.
To that end, this week, Biden signed a "Memorandum on Protecting Women's Health at Home and Abroad," reversing a number of Trump-era restrictions on funding for reproductive healthcare providers. Notably, the memorandum rescinded the global gag rule, which the White House's previous occupants had put into place to ensure the US government's official policy was state-sanctioned sexism, not just here in the US, but all over the world.
As the Biden White House said when it announced the change in policy,
Across the country and around the world, people — particularly women, Black, Indigenous and other people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and those with low incomes — have been denied access to reproductive health care. President Biden is also issuing a Presidential Memorandum to protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive health care. The memorandum reflects the policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to support women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally. Like memoranda issued by President Clinton and President Obama before him, it immediately rescinds the global gag rule, also referred to as the Mexico City Policy, which bars international non-profits that provide abortion counseling or referrals from receiving U.S. funding.
Science itself has shown, time and time again, how harmful the global gag rule is. It reduces, and sometimes even stops, HIV testing and treatment, pregnancy counseling, and contraceptive services. It specifically targets some of the most vulnerable populations on earth and reduces their access healthcare. And it does the opposite of its stated purpose, actually increasing abortion rates in some parts of the world. But Republicans have never been a group to let silly things like "facts" get in their way.
The global gag rule's stated goal is to take needed healthcare away from women and people who can get pregnant. First put into by Ronald Reagan (also called the Mexico City policy, for where he first announced it) and beloved by every Republican president since, it forces healthcare organizations to choose between money they need to operate and providing adequate services for their patients.
Under the global gag rule, international organizations that receive American global health assistance money are entirely prohibited from providing any information, services, or referrals for abortion — even if their abortion services are entirely separate from the programs they receive American aid for and paid for entirely out of the organization's own funds. It even bans healthcare organizations from advocating for changes to the laws in their own countries — many of which criminalize abortion.
As with most things, the Trump administration used the global gag rule as an opportunity to take a bad idea and make it even worse. Under previous Republican presidents, the global gag rule barred US aid from going to family planning organizations that offered abortion or abortion counseling. When W was president, it affected family planning NGOs that received some $600 million.
Under Trump, however, all fuckery was on steroids, especially if it had the added benefit of hurting vulnerable people. Instead of only taking away hundreds of millions of dollars for family planning, the Trump gag rule covered some $12 BILLION given to all kinds of healthcare providers. So if an overseas healthcare provider received a grant from the State Department, USAID, or the Department of Defense for something like HIV/AIDS, malaria, or combatting COVID-19, they were required to follow the gag order.
Biden's memorandum also resumes US funding to the United Nations Population Fund, which Trump had defunded because of lies that UNFPA supported abortion and forced sterilization in China. In 2016, the US, a founding member of UNFPA, had given $69 million to the organization. According to the UNFPA, the US contributions "could be used to prevent 1.4 million unintended pregnancies, 32,000 unsafe abortions, and provide reproductive and sexual health care to 4.2 million women and girls within a year."
Of course, people living outside of the United States aren't the only ones who have been hurt by the previous administration's war on healthcare. To that end, Biden's memorandum also takes aim at Trump's attacks on women's and reproductive healthcare through Title X grants.
In an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, the Trump regime enacted a rule prohibiting organizations that receive Title X family planning funds from making abortion referrals and even giving information about abortion as an option. Unlike the global gag rule, which can be done and undone with simple executive action, changing Trump's harmful Title X rule is a longer process because of administrative law constraints.
As the memorandum notes, Trump's "Title X Rule has caused the termination of Federal family planning funding for many women's healthcare providers and puts women's health at risk by making it harder for women to receive complete medical information." By signing the memorandum, Biden began the process of rescinding some of the archaic, misogynistic bullshit Donald Trump signed into law.
Like Biden said in the memo,
Women should have access to the healthcare they need. For too many women today, both at home and abroad, that is not possible. Undue restrictions on the use of Federal funds have made it harder for women to obtain necessary healthcare. The Federal Government must take action to ensure that women at home and around the world are able to access complete medical information, including with respect to their reproductive health.